Much of our August business - and fun! - comes from the fact that we usually make a trip to visit family in Preston, ID and Northern Utah. Those trips always make us wish we lived closer to Steve's family, miss the farm, and we inevitably end up trying to cram as much into a 5-7 day trip as is humanly possible while still enjoying lots of down time with family and two kids. We left on August 1st after I worked a short day at work to get everything prepared and duties written out for other people to take care of swimming lessons while I was gone for the next week. We arrived at Preston late, but the girls traveled unbelievably well. The next day, Steve woke up early and started helping out with grain harvest as it was time for his folks to cut grain. This meant Steve and Papa Bennett were busy for much of the day cutting grain, hauling truckloads to the mill as long as it was open, and then filling all the trucks up to start again the next morning. It was so great that Steve could help as he loves getting to help out on the farm and the guys managed to get everything cut and hauled in the first few days we were there with minimal lines at the mill. The best part was that any grandkids around, including both our girls, got to take combine rides with Papa. Ellie loved riding in the combine with Papa, stealing his chips, and just hanging out. She literally spent hours like that over a few days, and talked about Papa's combine and tractor rides for weeks after.
In the midst of all the harvest, we also fit in Ellie's 3rd birthday party. The weekend that everyone could make it up to celebrate was right after we got there, so the guys cut grain for part of the day on Saturday and then we had a fun family birthday party. Steve planned fun with rockets, and everyone (except Ellie) loved setting off water pressurized 2 liter pop bottle rockets and watching a "real" rocket later on in the day which ended up quite a ways down the road in a neighbor's pasture. The things you can't do in the city that you can on a farm.... Ellie did eventually come around to the rockets as she didn't love the noise but enjoyed chasing the soda bottles down for everyone. Steve had also planned for something Ellie LOVED which was to ride a neighbor's horse. All the cousins and kids took turns, but our birthday girl got an extra turn and she had such a blast on the horse it made us a little envious of farm life.
After horses we headed back to the house for dinner and gifts. Ellie got to choose whatever she wanted for dinner, so she of course chose hot dogs and a salad with fruit in it. Doesn't every 3 year old love any kind of salad? Well, ours does...
Yeah, she had a pretty rockin-awesome birthday party, even if I do say so myself. And we're so fortunate that so many family members traveled to come and celebrate our vibrant 3 year old with us.
Mckayla had a fun week too. Her Cousin Amanda had a blast playing with her, and although we came to Preston with Mckayla just having started to crawl, by the end of the week she was getting really speedy and had started pulling up on everything.
Yeah, the girls always have a lot of fun at Grandma and Papa's house...
Later in the week, to celebrate the end of harvest, we took a trip up to Black Canyon and the Grace Fish Hatchery with the girls and Grandma and Papa. Unfortunately, we stink and this cell phone picture of the Canyon is all we took. But the hatchery was so green and the water was so clear! The canyon was gorgeous and this was taken off the side of a foot bridge that spans the Bear River there. It was a fun day.
Later, on the 7th of August, we planned our next big adventure. The Bear River runs through Cache Valley, and the Cub River is one of its tributaries. Fun fact, later in the summer Ellie could tell you that the Cub River is a tributary of the Bear River which runs to the Great Salt Lake, and the same for many of our local rivers going to the Columbia and on to the ocean. Her father.... is awesome. ANYWAY, you can actually hike a little path that's really nice and well maintained to the head of the Cub River where the water comes straight out of the rocks and it's clean and safe to drink. It's a beautiful walk.
Here is most of the group, minus Grandma, crossing one of the bridges on the trail.
Here is Ellie celebrating her drink of fresh mountain water.
After our hike we headed back to the picnic area, and enjoyed a "small picnic" anyone would be jealous of, as only Reva could provide.
Following our picnic, we packed back up in the car, but the menfolk felt adventurous and the womenfolk didn't mind a pretty view, so we drove up into Franklin Basin to explore. It was gorgeous.
And the kids missed the entire thing... It was a fun, but exhausting day.
The rest of the trip the girls spent having fun with family.
But Steve and I still had a fun mini-trip to look forward to. On August 9th we said goodbye to our kiddos and left them in the very capable hands of their grandparents. We are SOOO grateful that Ray and Reva took our girls for us so we could have some us time. It doesn't happen very often with such young kiddos and we are so appreciative when someone helps us make it work out. Anyway, we said goodbye to the girls and headed out for our anniversary date. We were headed to Ogden but had a little extra time, so Steve decided to check out the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge. It was beautiful, even with much of it dried up late in the season. And we saw these gigantic pelicans!
After leaving the bed and breakfast on our anniversary we drove through some of the beautiful areas I am less familiar with in Cache Valley where Steve's family has roots, and made our way back home to our girls. It is always fun to see them so excited when we've been away. Other highlights of the day included Steve teaching me to drive a manual for the first time - not terrible, but I need more practice for sure! As well as shooting some, including an AR-15, which Steve enjoyed more than me, and we finished our night up with a four wheeler ride with all four of us in the family on two four wheelers driving around the farm and showing Ellie the Great Horned Owls that live around the cemetery adjacent to the farm. Yeah, we had a fantastic anniversary this year. Thanks to Steve who always plans our outings and makes them an adventure. (Too bad Ellie still thinks every time we drive past a cemetery we should see owls there, even at mid-day in the city...)
On August 11th we headed back home to get ready for the real world. I had to be to work on Monday and Steve started meetings on Wednesday, so it was back to the real world. My last official day of work was August 15th, at which point I missed my family, was tired, and was ready to get back to being a stay-at-home mom, and yet sad to let work go where I felt I'd accomplished tasks, contributed to the swimming program, and enjoyed working hard. Steve was a little less conflicted about starting his meetings up I think. However, he was happy when he got his test scores and once again had the highest passage rates in his district for biology. He also had 4 kids pass the AP biology exam, which ties the all-time high for his school in the last decade. Way to be fantastic at your job Daddy!
Ellie also got back to the real world that week and had to be poked and prodded as it was time for her 3 year well-check (which she did great for) and her second ever dentist appointment (which she screamed and cried the whole time for).
This was before the actual appointment when all the screaming started...
But the next weekend on the 17th, we got to see more friends and family and Ellie got spoiled once again. We went with the traditional Rose ice-cream cake for her second party, and she chose the bee cake at Baskin Robbins.
After the birthday parties things slowed down some. In part because we did A LOT of canning. Here are Steve and Ellie when we picked peaches at Ray French Orchard - which we LOVE - and this was after we'd already canned green beans earlier in the summer and then two big fruit boxes of peaches, two more of pears, and one of nectarines (big accident led to that, but we'll see how they come out when we get brave enough to try them...). Yeah, it was a busy canning month.
Just the beginning of our 2013 canning.
Another development that slowed up down was that the ultimate flu that makes you wish for a bright light at the end of a tunnel hit our house. It was actually my welcome home to being Mom the first Monday after I was done with work. I spent all day cuddling Ellie and keeping her away from Mckayla while getting really quick with the bowl I was teaching her to throw up in. A day or two later, it hit me (big surprise when you're the certified puke-catcher) and Steve had to take one day off work before school even started because all I could do was lay in bed and vomit. It was literally one of the worst illnesses I have ever experienced in my life, and I have had some send-you-to-the-hospital bugs before. Yay. Thankfully, you only threw up for exactly 12 hours (in our house) and then it just took a week or so before the appetite and energy levels were back to normal. I hope never again...
At least we did get to end the month on good news though, because here is the reason you all wanted to stay tuned and will get the pay-off if you stayed with me through this admittedly OBSCENELY long blog. Because..... On August 31st, this is what I left for Steve to find when he went to the bathroom.